WGAW to Honor 'The Simpsons' Co-Creator Sam Simon With Valentine Davies Award

Michael Brian
Sam Simon

The terminally ill writer-director-producer-philanthropist earlier this year revealed plans to donate his fortune to charity.

The Simpsons executive producer Sam Simon has been tapped to receive the 2014 Valentine Davies Award from the Writers Guild of America West.

The honor will be presented to the writer-director-producer-philanthropist "in recognition of his humanitarian efforts and community service on behalf of writers."

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Simon is the founder of The Sam Simon Foundation, whose mission is to “save the lives of dogs to enrich the lives of people.” The foundation’s Assistance Dog Program adopts at-risk dogs facing death in shelters and trains them as certified assistance dogs, which are placed, free of charge, as companions to aid the deaf and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Simon’s Foundation also operates a successful Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic, L.A.’s largest provider of free spay and neuter services, which once a week also provides low-income L.A. residents with free surgery needed for their pets. In 2011, Simon founded The Sam Simon Foundation: Feeding Families program, a mobile vegan food bank initiative that feeds 400 unemployed families each day.  

It's noteworthy that none of Simon's own civic and charitable foundations accept outside donations and are funded solely by Simon himself. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and later revealed that he plans to donate nearly all of his sizable Simpsons royalties -- which he has said earn him "tens of millions" annually -- to charity.

"The truth is, I have more money than I'm interested in spending," he told The Hollywood Reporter in July. "Everyone in my family is taken care of. And I enjoy this."

Simon will be recognized at WGAW’s 2014 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live.

“The work of Sam Simon’s life has entertained and humbled us, in equal measure," WGAW president Chris Keyser said in a statement. "And while this guild has often honored his wit and skill, today we honor his generosity and love – his understanding that we are, in the end, all caretakers of each other. Sam has dedicated himself to the cause of at-risk animals and people who have no other protector. A friend to them, he has become an inspiration to us, his grateful colleagues."

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Simon also serves on the national boards of international nonprofit Save the Children and animal rights advocate PETA. In 2012, he donated his ship – the Sam Simon – to Captain Paul Watson’s Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a global marine conversation organization which combats illegal whaling and fishing around the globe.

In addition to co-developing The Simpsons with Matt Groening and James L. Brooks, Simon also served as co-showrunner and character designer among his other duties on the show. He left the series in 1993 but remained an executive producer.

The nine-time Emmy winner's live-action TV writing-producing credits include The Drew Carey Show (executive producer, 1998-2003), The George Carlin Show (creator/executive producer, 1994-95), The Tracey Ullman Show (executive producer, 1988-1990), Cheers (1984-85) and Taxi (1982-83).

He has also directed episodes of sitcoms including Anger Management, Friends, The Drew Carey Show, Norm, Men Behaving Badly and The George Carlin Show.

In November, Simon also received the WGAW’s Animation Writers Caucus 16th Annual Animation Writing Award, a lifetime achievement honor recognizing his contributions to the craft of animation writing.

Past Valentine Davies recipients include Phil Alden Robinson, Norman Lear, Neal Baer, Larry Gelbart, Tom Schulman, Carl Reiner, Victoria Riskin, Seth Freeman, Susannah Grant and Phil Rosenthal.